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Evangelist To Battle San Francisco’s ‘Spirits Of Perversion’

September 2, 1990 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A Texas evangelist has ordered hundreds of thousands of ″prayer warriors″ to descend on San Francisco on Halloween to fight what he called the satanic forces of witchcraft, drugs and perversion.

″We need to reverse the curse on Halloween night,″ said Larry Lea, a televangelist who sometimes dons army fatigues and issues ″prayer army dog tags″ to followers. Lea said Friday that Halloween is innocent no more.

″This is not just kids having fun,″ he said. ″There is actual worship of the devil.″

Lea, whose daily ″Change Your Life″ television show is aired on 40 independent stations nationwide, is part of a growing movement of evangelical preachers who believe ″territorial spirits″ rule particular cities, industries and subcultures.

According to Dick Bernal, pastor of the Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, San Francisco is ruled by the Spirit of Perversion, Oakland by the spirit of murder, San Jose by the spirit of greed and Marin County, north of San Francisco, by the New Age spirit.

These evil spirits can be exorcised through ″militant power-praying″ - such as shouting, stomping, brandishing imaginary swords and speaking in tongues, Bernal and Lea explained.

Lea, former pastor of the Church of the Rock in Rockwall, Texas, oversees 70 pastors and 40,000 churchmembers from his Dallas-based ministry.

Last year, 6,000 people attended his three-day ″Prayer Breakthrough″ in Anaheim designed to ″inflict serious damage″ on evil spirits in Southern California.

Lea said he would promote the San Francisco campaign on his television program. He said he has signed up 280,000 prayer warriors and wants at least 20,000 more.

Some followers will go to the area’s tallest buildings to pray over the city, he said.

″This area has been the launching pad for a lot of things we consider unbiblical - free sex, the homosexual movement, acid rock,″ said Bernal, whose Jubilee Christian Center has 5,500 members. ″There are strong spirits of perversion and greed.″

Bernal’s church holds annual conferences during which members pray at abortion clinics, New Age spirituality centers and newspaper offices to repel ″demonic forces.″

Many Pentecostal Christians and other conservative evangelicals believe that spirits control cities or buildings, said C. Peter Wagner, a professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.

Professor Ron Enroth, a Christian sociologist at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, accused Lea of putting on a ″supernatural sideshow″ and ″coming on like God’s Green Beret and whipping people up in a militaristic manner.″

″Rather than facing up to the structural problems of our society, they find a demon behind every problem,″ he said. ″They are looking for quick fixes by pushing God’s buttons.″

2224EDT